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You Say You Want an Evolution - page 2

Previewing Helix Code's New Mailer/Calendar

  • June 30, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

In addition to what looks to be a promising mail client, Evolution also provides a calendar, contact manager, and to-do list.

 

The calendar is similar in look to the one that ships with the latest releases of GNOME, but offers more "groupware" features. At their simplest, appointments can be entered on the calendar with little more than a start time. An additional level of choices allow users to set reminder times and methods. For instance, audio and graphical reminders can be set, a program can be executed, and a mail reminder can be sent. It will also be a simple matter to set up recurrence rules for appointments, and the mechanism for doing this includes tools for setting exception dates.

For even more flexibility and team-oriented use, invitations can be sent (and retracted), and reminders can be mailed as industry-standard vcal files, which means Evolution will also play nicely with people using other software.

Evolution also shows some promise in the area of contact management. The address book itself allows users to add their own fields, the existing fields include the sort of social information business people will enjoy, and the layout is easy to navigate.

This is also an area where the graphical flare typical not only of Evolution but the whole GNOME project shines through. Maybe pretty pictures shouldn't matter, but it doesn't hurt that the project looks good. It will make for easier selling to Pointy Haired Bosses and others in the office attracted to shiny things.

Evolution will offer access to LDAP services...something that once again marks its likelihood to survive as a viable corporate choice.

For gadget lovers, Evolution will also work with the GNOME-Pilot framework, which continues to improve steadily with each release.

Loose Ends
There's a certain positive sense to the GNOME project on the whole that's as entertaining as it is invigorating. The project has never been particularly concerned with keeping things under wraps until they were ready for the end user, which has been a boon for the curious, and people who don't mind a few bugs along the way. As a result, those of us who have resigned ourselves to writing about the project have had the pleasure of watching things take shape as GNOME's developers move things forward.

Evolution is no exception to the general GNOME trend, and its developers admit as much. Release 0.1 is about putting the project's rough outlines in front of the public and providing a look at what's to come. A warning message even appears when the program is launched, pointing out that the software isn't ready to be used by anybody for much of anything, except the pleasure of getting a look at what's coming up.

Disclaimers aside, though, there's plenty to admire in the design, even if it isn't being executed quite yet. Our primary experience with the sort of software Evolution aims to become is Novell's Groupwise. If Evolution's feature list remains the same, and if the interface is kept at its current level of simplicity, Novell can count their software surpassed. Evolution promises to be a pleasure to use.

Are we sold on the notion that Linux somehow "needs" to control corporate desktops? We are not. It would be nice to have the choice. The fact is, though, the battle for the desktop is underway with efforts like the GNOME Project, Helix Code, Eazel, KDE, Corel and many others contributing to the effort. Motivations aside, Evolution looks like it will be a great piece of software no matter where it fits in on your desktop (if you even have one). The 0.1 preview release was an interesting glimpse: we're looking forward to seeing more.

 

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